Dear Praying Friends,
Busting At The Seams!
Each week our church is packed out, as people young and old are experiencing God’s amazing grace. It’s great to see new visitors nearly each week and a constant flow of people repenting and believing on Jesus for salvation, as well as following in baptism and discipleship. Leaders are being raised up and are serving in ministries both within and outside the local church body. The field is ripe in Colombia! We are needing more space and praying about our next steps. Would you pray with us?
Our Bible Institute is entering into its second semester this month. The 17 men in our institute all have a desire and calling to preach the Word, however and wherever God would see fit. Great days are ahead! Several of these are looking into training with me on a daily basis. Pray that the Lord gives us wisdom in training these, as well as the financial backing to allow them to dedicate themselves fully to the ministry.
In other news, there is a possibility we will be opening a children’s home soon. It’s an opportunity that the Lord seems to be dropping in our laps. We are praying for a family to help us lead this new endeavour. Stay tuned for details!
Learning To Say Goodbye
It was good to have Jason Fowler with us for part of June. He is a young man from our home church (Lighthouse Baptist in Dawsonville, GA), and is preparing to return for a long-term internship to work in our ministry. It’s amazing to see how God has worked in his life since I met him 9 years ago. Please pray for him. We have another individual and a small group who are planning to come this summer. If you’d like to line up a trip for your church or family to see the work here in Colombia, just shoot me an email or give me a call. We’d love to have you.
Our Kids, The Negotiators
There are several small stores in the first floor of our apartment building. Well, Anabel, our 4-year-old, found an umbrella toothpick one day, the kind they put in drinks, and took it into a store and came out with candy. We asked her where she got the candy, so she said, “I traded for it!” They’re learning the Colombian way! 🙂
Praises & Prayer Requests
Our church, Iglesia Bíblica Bautista El Faro. We’ll be celebrating our second anniversary in July! Pray for the spiritual growth of recent converts, as well as wisdom in how to accommodate everybody in our limited space.
- Men preparing for ministry in our Bible Institute. (Alfredo, Andrés, David, Díver, Ernesto, Félix, Hernando, Javier, Jesús Alberto, Jhon Fredi, Juan Carlos, Juan Danilo, Kenneth, Leonardo, Libardo, Óscar, Richard…)
- Trip to Chile in July. I was invited to preach a youth congress for some ministry friends, and Juan Danilo, one of the young men training with me gets to tag along!
- Pray for increased monthly support. With all the ministry growth we’ve been experiencing, comes greater expenses. Pray that God would lead more folks to partner with us in reaching Colombia with the Gospel.
- Pray for our family’s health. We’ve been dealing with minor illnesses lately, and Aubrie has had some deeper issues since the beginning of the year. Pray we can get some answers and relief for her.
Thank you for holding the ropes for us as we minister in Colombia. God is adding much fruit to your account! We love you thank God for every remembrance of you.
Love In Christ Jesus,
“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now;” Philippians 1:3-5
What an amazing week! Friend, God is at work among the people in Bucaramanga, Colombia! Here is a quick rundown of what we’ve been up to.
- Our first church plant here, Iglesia Bíblica Bautista El Faro, just completed 2 months since it’s inauguration. We are still seeing new visitors every week, during the Sunday, Tuesday and Friday services. Regular attendance is slowly but surely growing, as is the offering. They are nearly at a point already where they can take care of their basic monthly expenses (rent and utilities). This is a great step!
- Aubrie has been taking the kids out after our song service and doing a special program for them. This was a stretch for her, but a huge blessing to them! Her group keeps growing each week (there were 8 kids yesterday!), and the children look forward to their special time each week.
- Many people in this area are learning (or want to learn) English, so we decided to begin services once a week in English to give them a chance to practice. We hold this special service right before our main Sunday morning Spanish service and encourage people to stay for both. What I didn’t know was that we would also attract a few foreigners that live here who also speak English. In addition to a few Colombians that come, we have a gentleman from Texas, a Korean who grew up in London and his family and others that join us each week.
- Several are plugging into discipleship, meeting with me throughout the week. It is wonderful to see each progressing, growing in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
- Many families are excited about getting involved in serving in various ministries of the church. This is one of the most exciting things for me! There are also a few men that are wanting to go further. Pray for these that God would enable them to do the work of the ministry and enable me to train them!
- The family is doing well. This week our girls are on vacation from their preschool. Aubrie and our next little baby are fantastic. We find out on THURSDAY if we’re having a boy or a girl! Amira and Anabel are split as to which they want, but they’re both enthusiastic about having a baby around.
- A special thanks to the DeGaetano family for the gifts they sent us for the new baby this week! Also to Plantation Baptist Church for sending a few books by Striving Together publications to distribute to people in our church. What a blessing!
- Just like in many parts of the U.S., it’s fair season here as well. The “Feria Bonita” is going full blast. The difference is that the fair here takes place literally all over the city. Bike races, concerts, art & craft sales, food, games and much more draw people out of their homes to wander around the city. It’s a great opportunity to get the Gospel into people’s hands. Please pray as we pass out tracts this week to some of these people.
- We continue to see the Gospel change lives! Thank you to those that support us to make this work possible.
- **Family funny — I had a dream I went to Walmart a few days ago. Weird…
How can we be praying for you?
September 1, 2014
Brace yourselves — This is perhaps the most exciting prayer letter we’ve ever written! The past two months have been packed with God’s grace and blessings. Here is a quick rundown summary.
The Iglesia Bíblica Bautista El Faro had its first official services on July 13th with around 40 in attendance. Several acknowledged their need for salvation, repenting and believing on Jesus that day! There have been new visitors every week and many families and individuals are plugging in with personal discipleship, helping around the church and bringing their friends. Pray especially for a few young men who have shown interest in going further. Christ is building his church!!
Just days before the inauguration of our church, a Colombian lady contacted me from the USA whose mother was back in her hometown of Bucaramanga visiting family, and suddenly passed away. Both the daughter and this woman had been recently saved and were attending a good church in Florida, and I was asked to perform her funeral. The wish of this woman was that her lost family members would hear the Gospel preached at her funeral. What God did was truly amazing. By our best counts, about 120 people showed up for the service at our church (which really only holds 80), and heard a clear presentation of Biblical salvation. Dozens of these decided to place their faith in Jesus alone for eternal life. It was amazing! What an honor to this lady who had just been saved one year before. God is good!
More Lives Changed
We have seen several receive Christ and become born again in the past month, including religious people, who realized that Jesus is the only way, He is enough and that works do not save; also Atheists, who understood that there is a God who created them, loves them and died for them; and even an ex-paramilitary hit-man, who found a new beginning and new life in Jesus. God’s power has no limits. He is mighty to save all who will believe.
A Productive Visit
Our pastor and several from our home church came to visit in July. They helped get out thousands of invites the weekend before the big church launch and were a tremendous help to get the building ready for all the people. God worked through them and in them. Please pray especially for two of the young men that desire to return here or another place as God leads to work as full-time missionaries. If you would like to bring a group to Colombia, please get in touch with us, or see our website with details about a trip for students and singles June 15-25, 2015. We would love to have you!
- Growth of the church numerically and spiritually
- Families and individuals who are in discipleship
- A new youth outreach starting this month in the poorest and most dangerous neighborhood of our city
- Additional monthly financial support. At this point we have many more plans but are only held back by lack of funds. Would you consider partnering with us, that fruit would abound to your account? No amount is too small!
- Aubrie and the new baby — they are healthy and in the 2nd trimester already!
We love you and pray that the abundant grace of Almighty God would fill you, bless you and enable you to continue laboring for his Worthy Name!
Aaron & Aubrie Vance and family
Thank you for all you do to make it possible for us to be here! How can we be praying for you?
Happy New Year from the Vances in Colombia! I thought I’d share a fun little post of some [interesting] Colombian traditions and New Year’s rituals.
Colombia has a load of these New Year superstitions, and most people pick a couple to practice each year (you couldn’t possibly do all of them… lol). It’s amazing how many more of these I’m finding out about as we go along.
1. Vuelta A La Manzana (Trip Around the Block)
At midnight, many Colombians will grab an empty suitcase take a fast lap with it around the block. They believe this will increase chances of taking a big trip in the upcoming year. PS – our suitcases won’t be getting out again any time soon; moving to Colombia was enough for now! 🙂
2. Las Uvas (The Grapes)
It’s crazy how much I’ve been asked if we have prepared our “New Year’s Grapes.” 🙂 Colombians will get 12 grapes and once the clock strikes midnight, they’ll start eating them one by one (at each strike of the clock), making a wish on each. BUT, they believe you have to eat all 12 grapes before 12:01 to make sure the wishes come true!
3. Calzón Amarillo (Yellow Underwear)
This ritual is supposed to bring good luck, especially with the lottery. If you really want to be lucky, you’re supposed to wear it inside-out and/or backwards!
4. Dinero En El Zapato (Money In The Shoe)
So, if you want to have a financially prosperous year, you need to stuff some bills in your shoe (then put it back on), or at least have some money in your pocket.
5. Las Lintejas (The Lentils)
Colombians put a few grains, particularly lentils, in their pocket to make sure they have enough food to put on the table for the year.
6. Subir La Escalera (Climb The Ladder)
If there’s no ladder available, a chair can be used, but this ritual takes the figurative saying literally, making sure one climbs the ladder of society and life during the year.
7. El Año Viejo (The Old Year)
Perhaps one of the most interesting, to me at least, is the Old Year doll. Many Colombians carry out this tradition each year, gathering a pair of clothes, stuffing it with paper, cardboard and even explosives, then setting it in the street and incinerating it at midnight. This represents the old year passing and a new year coming. Past mistakes, failures, sins, can be left behind, because it’s a new year. Now there is a new opportunity, another chance at life. The old has gone and the new has come.
When I think of the new year traditions, particularly the Old Year doll, I cannot help but to think of the difference Christ makes in one’s life when they receive him as their Savior. When a person is born again, it is just that… they are born again! They really are made new! They really are a new creature! They really do have a different approach to life, a different hope, a different (and BETTER) purpose… What a difference Christ makes! We pray many Colombians come to know this Christ, not just as a religious figure or good luck charm, but on a personal level. On a complete-repentance-and-trusting-faith level.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. 2 Corinthians 5:17, 21
This list of 7 New Year’s rituals in Colombia is not near conclusive (I’ve heard of another 7 or 8 more traditions but I thought you’d get bored…lol), but I wanted to give you an idea of what we see here. Our wish for you, our friends and family, as you enter this new year, is that you would be full of God’s love, growing in his grace, and in the knowledge in his Word. We pray for health, prosperity, success, and open doors to serve our great God. We love you all!
The Book Of Colossians
Have you ever noticed how, as you read scripture, certain words receive more prominence than others? I was reading the book of Colossians this morning, and I couldn’t help but to see how much Christ was mentioned. It’s all about HIM and our relationship with HIM! Isn’t it supposed to be that way?
How much do you talk about Christ?